Chicken Fingers: Gluten Free and Casein Free Super Delicious Recipe

(but the vegetarians and vegans should sit this one out)

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I consider it somewhat of a small miracle when I can find a recipe that everyone in the family will eat and enjoy every single time that I make it without any groans or complaints. This recipe is one of those winners for us. It even elicits a “Yea!” or “Yum!” from all three kids when it’s the answer to the “What’s for dinner?” question. It’s no big surprise given that chicken fingers or nuggets seem to be fairly universal kid favorites, at least in this country.

I love this recipe even more because it is both gluten and casein free and can easily be adapted to be egg-free if the crowd requires. I’ve made this and served it at birthday parties to parents and kids of the food-allergy and non-food allergy persuasion and received rave reviews from all.

The recipe below will feed all five of us with some leftovers for a kid lunch or two the next day. You can scale back or increase as you need.

Ingredients

3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips or nuggets

Coating:
3 C. gluten free crunchy or crispy brown rice cereal (Enjoy Life brand is our favorite for this)
1/4 C. 3…2…1…Flour Mix! or other gluten free flour mix
2 t. All-Seasons Salt (Simply Organics is our favorite for this)
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. garlic powder

Egg Wash:
1 egg or favorite egg substitute
1/4 c. water

Oil for frying (you’ll want to choose your favorite high-heat oil for this. I recommend grapeseed oil or avocado oil).

Directions:

1. Measure all coating ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are well combined and cereal has been coarsely chopped. If you process the cereal too finely, the coating will lack crunch. Transfer this mixture onto a large plate.

2. Combine egg and water in a shallow dish or bowl, mixing well.

3. Set up your chicken strip assembly line as shown.

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(I don’t know why more people don’t put pictures of raw chicken up on the internet. Super awesome looking!)

4. Dip each strip in the egg wash to fully cover.

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5. Coat both sides in the coating mix.

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(can you find the chicken strip hiding in the coating mixture?)

I find that the easiest way to do steps 4 and 5 is either using a fork (less messy) or with my hands (faster). In any case, use a different utensil (distinct fork or hand) for either step to avoid massive egg/coating buildup.

6. Place coated chicken onto a foil-lined cookie sheet as you continue to coat the remaining pieces.

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7. Pour oil in pan to about 1/8” depth and heat over a low/medium flame. I use a 10″ or 12” cast iron pan for this. Toss a crumb of the coating mixture into the oil. If it begins to brown and bubble, your oil is ready. Carefully add your chicken strips to the pan and cook until browned (3-4 minutes).

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8. Flip and cook until browned on the other side and cooked through. If your flame is too high, the outer coating will burn before your chicken is cooked, so adjust temperature as needed.

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9. Remove from pan and let cool slightly on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil.

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10. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces and sides. We love a creamy honey mustard sauce for dipping, and enjoyed this with watermelon and a marinated cucumber salad tonight.

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Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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Barganic Alert-Vegan Cuts Men’s Grooming Box

Have you had a chance to check out the Crunchy Parent list of crunchy-friendly subscription boxes? If you have, you may be familiar with Vegan Cuts, a monthly subscription service specializing in cruelty-free beauty and skincare products. They tend to feature a lot of natural and organic products as well. In addition to their monthly boxes, Vegan Cuts will occasionally offer special themed boxes for individual purchase.

Vegan Cuts Men's Grooming Box

Right now, Vegan Cuts is offering a special Men’s Grooming box, perfect to delight the animal-loving, crunchy guy in your life. If you can stand to keep it a secret, this would make a great gift to tuck away for Father’s Day too.

The Grooming Box features 12 vegan products including:

Thrive – Face Wash 3.38 oz
Ursa Major – Stellar Shaving Cream 2 oz
Bare Bones Body Care – Deodorant 2 oz
Brickell Men’s Products – Face Moisturizer 1 oz
nyl – Foaming Castile Hand Soap 1.5 oz
Preserve – Triple Razor System Handle & 2 Blades
Aubrey Organics – Men’s Stock After Shave Balm 4 oz
Fanciful Fox – Beard Oil 4.25 oz
Sage & Arrow – Coffee Scrub 2 oz
Jonathan Product – Green Rootine Pure Paste 1.7 oz
Verb – Shampoo .65 oz
Verb – Conditioner .65 oz

The box is valued at $108 and costs $39.95 with free shipping in the United States. Boxes will start shipping the week of March 30th. Are you in for one?

Make sure that you don’t miss out on any Barganic Alerts, these babies tend to be time-limited. Subscribe to Crunchyparent.com to always be the first to know!

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Barganic Alert-Kings Road Apothecary 15% off everything

King’s Road Apothecary is having their twice annual Equinox sale, ending at midnight tonight (Pacific time zone, I think). Enter the code EQUINOX at checkout to save 15% off all purchases $45 or more. This sale includes their herbal “surprise” subscription boxes in single month or multi-month options. Next month’s box will feature citrus blossoms as the theme and will contain four herbal items that may include an orange blossom soda syrup; orange blossom, pistachio and apricot oolong tea; orange blossom + elderflower facial balm; orange blossom bath and body oil; orange blossom digestive bitters; orange blossom tea jelly; lemon and orange blossom heart gladdening elixir; orange and lemon blossom body butter; or orange blossom bath fizz.

I think this may be a sign that I should finally take the plunge and commit to some of her amazing surprise boxes. What are you thinking of picking up with this deal?

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3…2…1…Gluten Free Flour Mix Recipe

I tend to cook and bake a lot. They are among my favorite creative outlets, I think perhaps because the gratification of the end result is relatively quick, and because I like to eat. Once we became aware of Eva’s (and subsequently our other children’s and our own) food allergies and sensitivities it was all the more helpful to know how to make food that we could all enjoy and that tastes delish so that we didn’t feel like we were missing out.

One of the first things that I looked for was a good, solid, reliable flour substitute because it’s a complete staple in gluten free baking. There weren’t as many commercially-produced, gluten free, flour mixes available at that time, eight or so years ago, and prepared mixes tend to be costly. Store-bought GF mixes are great in a pinch or for those who don’t do much gluten free baking, but for our everyday baking needs I wanted something that I could whip up myself to have on hand, and I didn’t want too many hard-to-find ingredients. I trialed a lot of different flour combinations and settled on one based on rice flours and basic starches. I personally did not care for blends that used bean flours, as I didn’t like the flavor that they lent to my baked goods. I initially found this recipe on Food.com and have made some minor changes and notes to save cost and yield the best end result for your needs.

The proportions in this have always reminded me of a recipe shared by Dolly Parton’s character, Truvy, in Steel Magnolias, which is one of those movies that I can sit down and watch any and every time that it is on. At one point in the film Truvy is sharing her simple recipe for a dessert she calls, Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa (“It’s just a cup of flour, a cup of sugar and a cup of fruit cocktail with the syrup, stir and bake in a hot oven ‘til golden brown and bubbly.  I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness.”).

We use this flour mix absolutely all of the time and I’ll reference it a lot in my recipes, so it seemed important to share. Drumroll please……….

3…2…1…Flour Mix

3 Cups brown rice flour
3 Cups white rice flour
2 Cups potato starch
1 Cup tapioca starch
3 Tablespoons guar gum or xanthan gum

Stir it all together and store in an airtight container. Use in equal amounts as a substitute for all-purpose flour in any recipe.

And now for the important notes and tips and such….sometimes brown rice flour can be gritty and this will not yield the best results. Look for a brand whose flour you can see before buying to ensure that it is ground into a fine, uniform powder. I have had good luck with both Arrowhead Mills and Bob’s Red Mill, but I am sure that there are other good brands.

As for the white rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch, I have found that these can be purchased relatively inexpensively at most Asian markets or grocery stores with good-sized international foods sections. These same products can be found at the health food grocery or specialty store catering to individuals with food allergies, but they will be far more expensive if you go this way. Of course, you are unlikely to find organic versions when going the international route, so it is up to you to determine what is the best choice for you.

For the thickening agent, I use either xanthan gum or guar gum interchangeably depending on what I have around. If you are baking for someone who is especially sensitive to corn, soy, or wheat, you may wish to avoid xanthan gum because it is grown on a host substance that is usually either corn, soy, or wheat. Sometimes the package will specify on what it was grown, but often it will not. Guar gum is derived from the guar bean and may be tolerated more easily by those who find that they are sensitive to xanthan gum. As with the flour and starches, it will be more expensive to source these through brands targeting food allergy markets. You can generally find xanthan gum and guar gum more affordably if you purchase them as supplements from brands such as NOW.

Enjoy, and if you have a flour mix (store bought or homemade) that you swear by, please share below.

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So What is a Crunchy Parent?

Me, a little Alina, and Peggy O'Mara, Mothering Magazine's former Editor and Publisher at the La Leche League 50th Anniversary Conference in 2008.

Me, a little Alina, and Peggy O’Mara, Mothering Magazine’s former Editor and Publisher at the La Leche League 50th Anniversary Conference in 2008.

When this blog was initially conceived 8+ years ago in its original version, we were trying to come up with something to call it. I knew that many of the parenting choices that we had made up to that point were different than those of most of our peers who had started having children around the same time. It had become increasingly clear that some of the notions that we had with respect to parenting were non-mainstream, at least in our culture. Finding a community to toss around these ideas or share these experiences was something that we were mostly able to do online. That was what we wanted to share and do through the blog. One day it just struck me and I called my husband, Rich at work, “They call them crunchy,” I said. “What?” was his very well-articulated reply. “Parents like us. They call them crunchy.” And so it was that CrunchyParent.com was born.

This of course begs the question as to why parents, or people, like us are called crunchy. Although I cannot provide any official insight into the etymology of the term, it is my understanding that the “crunchy” reference is a throwback to the idea of granola and its association with the non-mainstream, nature-loving, hippie culture of yesteryear. For this reason the term crunchy parent can evoke patchouli-scented visions of Birkenstock-clad, long-haired, treehuggers espousing the benefits of raw foods as they gently shift the baby and toddler wrapped to their torso to allow for free access to the tandem-nursing experience. This could very well match the image of a given crunchy parent, but it is equally likely that it will not even bear a resemblance. Just as there are countless varieties of actual granola, there are endless iterations of crunchy parents.

In my head, the crunch in crunchy is not one that I associate with granola, rather it is the sound of the Earth beneath one’s feet when he or she deviates from the well-traveled path trodden by the masses. It is the snap of twigs and the crumble of brittle leaves when we venture off in a slightly divergent direction because we are called to explore something a little different than the road that has been carved out right before us.

One of the things that I find most interesting about this non-mainstream “crunchy” idea is the extent to which it is an ever-shifting definition. I was a huge admirer of Mothering Magazine after discovering it in the early 2000s, a bit prior to embarking on my own parenting journey. For those unfamiliar, the magazine was founded in 1976 as a natural parenting resource. It was in my opinion, an amazing publication that brought together previously marginalized parents to discuss the thoughts and ideas of what has historically been a counter-culture of people embracing naturally-based parenting choices that may have been atypical amongst their peers. I was a longtime subscriber to the magazine, from the time that I discovered it until they ceased production in 2011. I also was quite obsessed for a while with the idea of amassing every back issue of the magazine that I possibly could and devouring the contents, not only as a way to continue to shape my beliefs, but also as a fascinating glimpse into what it looked like to be a “crunchy parent” in the recent history of Western cultures.

I remember being struck by one topic of discussion in particular because it so perfectly illustrated to me how mainstream versus counter-cultures evolve with time. As I recall (and you’ll forgive my inability to reference accurately as all of my treasured Mothering magazines are currently in storage and I can’t look at them) in the 70s or 80s there were passionate movements in the United States natural-parenting community to allow for children to sleep in cotton pajamas. At that time, cotton pajamas for children were banned from sale in the U.S. because they were believed to present a fire safety hazard. Only synthetic pajamas that had been treated with flame-retardant chemicals were permissible as children’s sleepwear. Concerns were voiced among Mothering’s readership that flame retardant chemically treated pajamas might not be healthy for their children to wear, and may in fact have ill-effects over time. Thus, they were motivated to find alternatives (They may have been onto something, and sometime I will tell you my very sad tale of how I was slated to be a participant in that landmark study but had to withdraw due to the extremely unusual circumstances of my first birth, but that is for another day).

In response to this perceived problem there were discussions about how to get ahold of untreated 100% cotton pajamas from other countries where they were legal or how to sew pajamas for your children at home out of natural fabrics. To me, a parent in a new millennium who could buy her children (snug-fitting) untreated, 100% cotton pajamas at just about any big box or children’s clothing store in the nation, the whole conversation seemed amusingly absurd but also incredibly enlightening. Sometimes, being a crunchy parent at one moment in our history just means that you are clearing a new path that others will come to follow in droves when the larger society shifts to embrace the same school of thought. Other times, you may just be out merrily traveling along with your like-minded tribe on an issue that the mainstream culture may never come to accept.

In my opinion, it is not an all-or-nothing proposition, nor is it constant. I, like most parents, am always learning new things and contemplating how to best support the health and wellness of my family. My children and family are always changing as are their needs and our resources to meet those needs. Sometimes choices that I make or things that I do may seem uber-crunchy and sometimes they may seem crunchy-light. The eye of the beholder will influence this perception as well.

I hope that the people (parents or otherwise) who make their way to this blog will find a connection to some aspect of my life. A life that as a whole I think fits within the crunchy label, even though individual parts of it may be interesting to those who do not feel a relationship to that term. You do not need to be crunchy to enjoy crafts or simplicity, to prepare foods at home with an eye on food allergies or sensitivities, to seek out organic or non-GMO foods, or to desire effective cosmetic, skincare, or household products without toxic ingredients. In fact, many of these choices have become increasingly mainstream since I started parenting twelve years ago. Of course, once you travel the road not taken, it is less intimidating to trust your own compass and continue to venture out, so I think that you will see the ongoing evolution of my interests into avenues that are still off the beaten paths of today. One day, perhaps when they are navigating the world of parenting, I hope that my children will look back at some of things that we did as parents and view us more as trailblazers and visionaries and less as quaint, but misguided odd-balls. I suppose that only time will tell.

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Crunchy-friendly Subscription Boxes

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As I mentioned briefly in ‎this post I have been making conscious attempts to make self-care a higher priority in the last several years. Parenting can be all-consuming, at least it has been for me many times, and I tended to seriously neglect myself. My cancer diagnosis was a wake up call that I absolutely needed to take better care of myself mentally and physically if I wanted to be able to continue to be a good parent to my children. I also wanted to feel better about myself and how I presented myself to the world. Realistically, I still was not going to have oodles of “me” time, and being able to get away from home to do things alone is even more challenging.

Moreover, skin, haircare, and cosmetic, and body care products simply had to be no- or low-toxin for me to use them. I would rather go without than slather myself with ingredients that might make it harder to stay healthy, but I really didn’t know where to begin. My skincare products had distilled down to aloe gel, shea butter, and coconut oil and they just weren’t cutting it. So, I decided that one aspect of my self-care plan would be to join some monthly subscription services. Just in case you’re unfamiliar, subscription services send out a “mystery” package (usually monthly) of products in sample or full sizes for you to try that fit within a certain theme such as eco-freindly beauty and skincare products or gluten free snacks. I figured that by joining a service, I would get a special package (or more) each month just for me with products to encourage me to pamper myself. It would also help me discover new natural, organic, or otherwise eco-friendly products that had already been screened and curated by companies with values like my own. Once I got my boxes, I could have some R&R time with a new face mask after the kids went to bed at night, or if I had an occasion when I might want to wear lipstick, I might actually own one. I have been receiving subscription boxes for about a year now, and I must say that it has been great!

I personally found it overwhelming at first to select a couple of subscriptions to try. There are countless services available, with many different target markets and missions. There are new services being introduced and old ones phasing out all of the time. I thought that I would try to save you some of the trouble that I went through. I have compiled a fairly comprehensive list of subscription services currently available that may appeal to people of the crunchy mindset, wherever they may be along the crunchy continuum or whichever aspect of crunchiness is important to them. I have tried to include beauty and lifestyle boxes that might be organic, or vegan; that might be eco-friendly, GMO-free, or support charities. Food boxes might be gluten, nut, and/or dairy free. They may feature organic or non-GMO products, or provide pre-package produce all ready to juice for your next cleanse or to boost a new health practice. I’ve listed herbal boxes, essential oil boxes, fair trade boxes, and eco-friendly boxes for the expecting or new mama. Boxes for children likely feature organic products, high-quality wooden toys, and are battery-free. There is even a toy rental subscription service included. Some of the subscription services are large and well-established. Others are small, limited, indie subscriptions or may be just starting out. In any case, I hope that you will find what you are looking for.

For the sake of brevity I have included shipping information assuming shipping in the United States. Many of these companies may send boxes elsewhere for an additional cost. Please see individual sites for information. I cannot speak to the specifics of any individual subscription, nor am I recommending any of these services over any other. In truth, I have received just a small percentage of these boxes personally, but I wanted to provide a resource. If you have any personal experiences that you wish to share, or if you know of any subscriptions that you think should be added to this list, please comment below.

Beauty/Lifestyle

Bare Bliss Box in every box get 4-6 “healthier” sample-sized skincare and makeup products that will nourish your body and enhance your life, with occasional bonus lifestyle items. BBB screens products for ingredients such as artificial fragrances and dyes, parabens, SLS, and other potentially harmful chemicals. They also emphasize products that are cruelty-free and organic. $19.99/month (free shipping) Discounts with multi-month subscriptions.

Blissmo Box $19.95/month plus shipping, free shipping with multi-month subscriptions. Value of $20-$40+ per box. A monthly box of premium organic, non-toxic and eco-friendly personal care and food products. Full & trial-size. Allows choice among three themed box offerings each month (usually a food, beauty/personal care, and seasonal themes). Also allows for skipping a month if none of the themes seem to be a good fit.

BuddhiBox $30.95/month. Less with multi-month subscriptions. Box contains 4-6 full size items to enhance your yoga practice and lifestyle. BuddhiBox is committed to supporting non-profits. Most of the items featured are organic and vegetarian, and a brief questionnaire also allows the purchaser to indicate a preference for vegan items if desired. Each month BuddhiBox picks a charity and donate proceeds from the sale of the boxes to them. They also offer a smaller sampler box for $11.95/month, and a jewelry box for $49.95/quarter.

Causebox Ships quarterly. $49.95 per shipment and includes shipping. You will receive at least $150 worth of full-size products for women from Sevenly’s favorite socially conscious brands. Each box also includes a new, exclusive Sevenly product. For every box sold, Sevenly gives $7 to one of 7 partner charities. Additionally, the box features products from companies that are committed to doing good all over the world. Some give one-for-one, some give meals, some medical aid, others give money to help various causes.

Conscious Box $19.95/month including shipping for the “Plus” version. Lower per month cost for multi-month subscriptions. Also offer a smaller “Taster” box for $9.95/month, less with multi-month subscriptions. Conscious Box features hand-selected food, bath, beauty, and home products, All-Natural and GMO-free. Classic, Vegan, and Gluten-free “themed” boxes are available as subscription options.

Daily Dose of Green $15/month. Includes free shipping. Lower per month cost for annual subscription. Contains “green” product samples to provide the opportunity to try the very best, premium Green products before purchasing the full size versions.

Eco Emi $15/month with free shipping. Each monthly box contains 7-8 eco-friendly, all natural, vegetarian, animal conscious, free-trade product samples. Also try to make the packaging as interesting as the product and focus on packaging that is reusable. A box may contain everything from skin, hair, and nail products to nutritious snacks, teas and seeds. Eco Emi recently discontinued their beauty-only box but as of this writing, they continue to offer a variety subscription with products from the above mentioned categories.

Eco Salon This quarterly box is not a subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. There are generally pretty limited numbers of boxes available (around 50). Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Goodebox $19/month, including free shipping. Modest discounts offered for multi-month subscriptions. Goodebox is a trial and discovery service providing expertly curated, trial-sized healthy beauty and personal care products, along with samples of natural & organic health and wellness products.  Each Goodebox includes a pre-screened selection representing what Goodebox thinks are among the best healthy beauty products available.

Hemp Box/Hemp Box for Men $19.99/month includes free shipping. Hemp Box features 5 health, beauty and nutritional products each month that contain hemp.

Herbal Bliss $25/month including free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions (e.g. an annual subscription drops to $18/month) Herbal Bliss contains an exclusively curated assortment of high quality herbal delights. Five items will be included each month, representing the categories of well-being, culinary, aromatherapy, blissful body, and “spotlight.” All suppliers are small-batch producers.

holBox $30/month. includes shipping. holBox is a subscription service for  women who desire to live a holistic lifestyle. It is intended to serve as a starting point for women transitioning into a holistic lifestyle. Each box contains 5-7 different sample products, and will include products that you can use for the body, hair, mind and in the household.

Klover Box $25/month free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Klover Box features natural, cruelty-free and organic beauty, health, nutrition and home products. Klover Box aims to provide opportunities to try affordable eco-friendly products, handpicked by their health conscious curators to allow the buyer to incorporate better products into every aspect of life. Each box features 4-7 sample and full sized products.

Level Naturals Three tiers of boxes ranging from The Good Box at $14.95/month to The Good(est) Box at $49.95/month (prices do not include shipping). Level is a vegan, gluten and cruelty free, all natural company. Certified by Peta and Leaping Bunny, 100% made in the USA. All boxes feature selections from Level Natural’s own bath/body products and candle lines.

Organic Authority Goodie Box Organic Authority is a sister company to Eco Salon (see above) with a similar approach. They are not a regular subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. Numbers are quite limited. Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Petit Vour $15/month includes shipping. Petit Vour focuses on cruelty-free products, but tend to feature product lines that are also natural and organic. Petit Vour delivers 4-5 fresh beauty miniatures right to your doorstep each month. The samples are generously sized (and sometimes full-sized!)

Sapphire Soul Balance Box Sapphire Soul offers 5 different box configurations ranging from “Crystal Pack” of 1 or more crystals at a price of $9/month to “Large Lotus Balance Box” at $52/month which features a crystal, essential oil, a piece of handmade crystal healing jewelry, and one or more additional products (soaps, candles, and aromatherapy products tend to be featured frequently). Overall the box highlights holistic products to nurture mind, body, and soul; striving to increase balance and positive energy. Prices do not include shipping.

The Sudsy Box Ships every-other month. $20/shipment which includes shipping free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box will contain 3 full-sized bars of Sudsy Box own branded soaps as well as one body product such as a lip balm or lotion bar. The soaps that are in Sudsy Box are handcrafted in small batches and do not include artificial fragrances, colors or additives. All of the ingredients are plant based and organic whenever possible. Products are vegetarian friendly, gluten free, and packaging is 100% recycled. Every month, Sudsy Box donates soap to Clean The World. This organization is dedicated to promoting hygiene in under developed regions around the world.

Teens Turning Green Conscious Collection
Not an auto-billing subscription, but a first come, first served single purchase box available in limited quantities, and sometimes comes in both “male” and “female” versions. Cost is $75/box plus $20 shipping. The box includes Approximately 20 deluxe and full size items per collection. Each box highlights thoughtfully curated, ethically-produced products across many lifestyle categories. Product selections are based on health of ingredients, environmental impact, efficacy, and verified standards like USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade, and data from the Environmental Working Group. Proceeds from the box benefit the Teens Turning Green non-profit organization.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month included shipping. Modest discount for multi-month subs. Vegan cuts features 100% cruelty-free brands, many of which are also natural and organic. Each box contains 4-7 full and sample-sized products to try, ranging from unique cosmetics to luxurious skincare.

With Love from Angela $24.99/month includes free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each month’s box will deliver 4-5 carefully selected, all natural bath and skin care products and presents such as candles or accessories. Boxes will include a combination of WLFA’s own branded products as well as items from other brands that they deem to be terrific. They focus on products that are all natural and 100% quality.

Yogi Surprise
$35.96/month with free shipping. Each box features 6-8 full-size products designed to nourish and support your well being, vitality and growth. Items include pure, natural, and handcrafted goodies that are vegetarian, cruelty, and GMO free.

Yuzen $33/quarter includes shipping. Yuzen strives to include only the very best eco-conscious products to nourish the body and soul. Each beautiful box includes high-quality natural and organic personal care products, healthy snacks, and lifestyle items carefully chosen from about 6 companies.

Food

Cuisine Cube $34.99/month includes shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each monthly box features at least five exciting full-sized gluten-free breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert items. Cuisine Cube tries to introduce lesser-known artisanal brands. Some products are certified gluten free, others use only gluten-free ingredients but are not certified gluten free. Many products are certified organic and CC strives to avoid GMOs and artificial ingredients.

Emma’s Organics monthly (or bi-weekly) box subscription. You receive 2 large 8oz bags a month $22.95 + $5.00 shipping or 4 large 8 oz bags every other week $44.95 + $10.00 shipping. The granola is 100% organic, non GMO, gluten free and dairy free. PLUS it is 100% SPROUTED!

Farmivore products Three box sizes range from $25.95-$69.95, which includes shipping. Farmivore sends boxes filled with all that you need to make blended or juiced drinks using only organic, GMO-free, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices. Subscriber can select delivery frequency and either all-green juice boxes or “mixed” boxes with green, red, and orange juices featured. Produce will be sent bagged with recipes to create each of the juices featured in that shipment, and each box makes between 4-16 servings of juice depending on box size. Currently Farmivore ships to eight states in the Northeast.

Farm To People Tasting Box Two tiers of subscriptions (Casual Foodie-$29.95/month and Food Critic: $49.95/month both of which include shipping). Boxes include 2-3 or 5-8 full size products respectively. Items included will be unique, humanely made food items that are locally produced in small batches. All foods are GMO free. FTP also advertise that they are happy to accommodate any serious food allergies or dietary restrictions if you email them directly. Each box centers around a theme. Past themes have included Oktoberfest, Heat Things Up, Turkey Day, among others.

Green Blender $49/week shipping included. Each box brings you pre-portioned and individually wrapped ingredients to make 10 servings of blended smoothie drinks (2 servings each or five different recipes). Boxes include fruits, vegetables, superfoods, and whatever else you need to make a week’s worth of smoothies (you just provide the blender and the water). Produce is organic, local, and seasonal whenever possible. Currently Green Blender delivery area covers approximately a dozen states throughout the Northeast.

Healthy Surprise Offer three subscription options: Classic Box, Big Box, and Paleo Box. Boxes range from 15-21 full size snacks and are priced from $49-$74 depending on subscription option. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted. All items are gluten, soy, corn, wheat, and GMO free. Paleo box also does not contain any refined sugar, grains, dairy, or legumes, but may contain some items with honey, eggs, or high quality meat or fish. Classic Box and Big Box are 100% vegan.

Love with Food Offers three subscription options (Tasting Box, Deluxe Box, and Gluten Free Box) ranging in price from $12-$29/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed to help you discover new organic or all-natural snacks. Boxes feature between 8-20 snack items depending on subscription type. Snacks are either organic or all-natural, GMO-free, gluten-free or free of artificial junk. All snacks in the Gluten-Free box are guaranteed to be gluten free. For every box sold, Love with Food donates a meal to several food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength – No Kid Hungry.

My non-GMO box $14.99/box. Currently only offering boxes as single purchases, not as a re-billing subscription service. My Non-GMO Box contains an assortment of Non-GMO Project verified products from top-quality manufacturers. The first box. launched January, 2015 included 6 single-serving non-GMO snacks.

Num-Nums Munch Box Offer Single Box ($21.99/month) or Double Box ($43.50/month) plush shipping. Each box available as either Gluten Free, Dairy Free, or Nut Free, although most snacks are selected to be top 8 allergen-free (dairy, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish) so the entire family can enjoy them. Single box contains 10 to 12 single-serving snacks, and double box includes 20-24 single-serving snacks. The assortment of snack items includes snack bars, chips, sweets, cookies and more. Although snacks are free of identified allergens, they may be manufactured in factories that process other ingredients.

Send Me Gluten Free $30/month includes free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each box will include 8-12 gluten free products and will include at least 1 full-sized item. Product selection will include food, personal care items, supplements and household products that support a gluten free lifestyle.

Tasterie
$25.00/month, includes shipping. Four box varieties (Gluten Allergy, Gluten and Dairy Allergy, Nut Allergy, and Top 8 Allergy). Each box includes 4-8 full and single-serving sized allergy-free foods. Nut allergy and Top 8 allergy foods are all confirmed to have been made in a nut-free facility.

Taste Guru $19/month plus shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box contains a mix of full and single-serving sized gluten free food items. Around 10 items per box.

Trade As One $99/quarter 12-15 hand-picked, ethically sourced pantry products. Each box is seasonally themed and includes a broad range of items from everyday staples to fun discovery items. We also help you unpack the meaning of the items in your box with stories from producers, tasty recipes, and product highlights.

Urth Box Offer multiple sizes from Mini (4-5 products) to Large (20-24 products), which range in price from $9-$49/month, including shipping. Each box includes food and beverage items focused health. All boxes are offered in one of four varieties: Classic, Vegan, Gluten Free, or Diet. In addition to snacks, boxes may include “extras” from categories such as supplements, personal hygiene, hair and skin care, gourmet and more. Products will be full sized, although this may include single-serving items.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month includes free shipping. Each box contains 7-10 full and sample sized vegan food and beverage items. Most products are also gluten free.

Yumvelope $21/month. Shipping free with multi-month subscriptions. Yumvelope highlights 100% natural, small-batch, artisanal food items from throughout the United States. Each shipment includes a minimum of six full-sized items, which may include snacks, drinks, desserts, and chocolates.

Health/Wellness

Natural Herbal Living Herb box + magazine PDF $48/month ($44/month recurring) Mini Herb box + magazine PDF $24/month ($22/month recurring) Will include ingredients to make several recipes shared in Natural Herbal Living Magazine including, but not limited to, the herb of the month, essential oil, flower essence, additional herbs, oils, bees wax, vinegar, honey, and other herbal goodies necessary to make the recipes of the month. This also includes a generous amount of the “herb of the month” to experiment with above and beyond the recipes included in the herb box. The value of the contents of the box will range between $50-60 in addition to the magazine PDF ($4 value). All of the ingredients will be responsibly sourced and organic whenever possible. If the herbs are not certified organic they will be ethically wildcrafted. No box will ever include gluten, nuts, corn, or dairy.

Becca Organics Oil of the Month Four Levels of subscriptions ranging from $27/month to $197/month (shipping included). Designed to help build up your essential oil collection and support health and well-being. Level One includes one bottle of essential oil up through Level Four which provides 8 bottles of essential oils, a room misting spray, an AromaStix roll-on product, and 5 empty mister bottles for creating your own mists. All essential oils are organic and wild harvested and non-GMO.

Essential Oil Wizardry Three levels of membership $20/month gets 1 blend; $49/month 3 items including an essential oil and a tincture; $87/month for 5 items including EO, tincture, and, massage oil plus a 10% off coupon. (Shipping included). Limited to just over 100 members.

Kings Road Apothecary
$52.50/month plus shipping. Multi-month subscriptions include free shipping. Kings Road Apothecary sends handcrafted, small-batch, herbal-based products that often are seasonal in nature. Boxes are themed (e.g., pinon, lymphatic support, seaweed, salt & water, etc.) and include four full-sized products in each shipment. Items may include an herbal tincture, tea, body scrub, facial mask or cream, massage oil, and more. Approximately 50 boxes are available each month. This is not a re-billing subscription. Boxes are available as single purchases or can be pre-purchased as a multi-month subscription.

Pregnancy/Baby/Mom/Home

21 Bundles $39.99/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Started by a woman who has served as a pre and post-natal yoga instructor, post-partum doula, Certified Lactation Educator Counselor and nanny, 21 Bundles sends all natural, toxin free products to delight new mom or mom-to-be. Boxes tailored for whatever stage of pregnancy or of baby’s first year and will include 5-8 full size items, with a total retail value of anywhere from $50-$80.

Austin Lloyd $49.99/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 3-5 premium toys and at least one book catered to your child’s developmental level and gender (or gender neutral), focused on children ages birth to 3 years. All items are non-toxic and BPA-free. These are unique, high end toys that are not typically sold at large retail chains and come from brands like Haba, Plan Toys, Melissa & Doug, and Manhattan Toys among others. They are designed to be engaging and targeted at improving fine motor, cognitive, and social skills. No battery operated toys included.

Ecocentric Mom $24/shipment, shipping included. Ships every other month. Available in three box types (Pregnancy Box, Mom Box, Mom & Baby Box). Each box included 5-9 hand selected products that are gentle on your body and the earth. Items are natural, sustainable, organic, and ethical. Boxes feature a mix of large sample sizes and full size products. Items range from skincare, wellness, snacks, and more in the Mom Box to diapers, skin cream, and organic first food in the Mom & Baby box, to skincare, makeup, spa products, and more in the Pregnancy Box.

Homegrown Collective $39/month plus shipping. Price reduced and shipping free for multi-month subscriptions. Receive a seasonally appropriate, professionally curated  box of products that deliver the satisfaction of living a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. Examples of past boxes include Home Remedies and Cure Alls, Kombucha, Detox in a Box, and The Beauty of Coconut. Boxes include instructions and all supplies needed to create one or more awesome DIY products with each box (may need to provide some basic supplies). Also teaches you how to become more self-sufficient/sustainable.

The Honest Company Offers several monthly themed bundles: Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers & Wipes ($79.95/month), Essentials-items for home and body care ($35.95/month), Honest Health & Wellness-food based and quality supplements (($35.95/month), and Organic Infant Formula + dha ($119.95/bundle; buyer sets frequency). With the exception of the formula bundle, bundles are fully customized buy the buyer within each theme and specified quantity of items (for example, any 5 items/Essentials bundle; any 2 items/Health & Wellness bundle.

Little PNuts Annual subscription required, no month-to month or single box option. $60/quarterly shipment if annual fee of $240 is paid up front. Shipping is included. Can also opt for $25/month payments for 12 months ($300 total), but will still only receive 4 quarterly boxes. Filled with engaging Eco Friendly & Organic Toys designed to encourage creative play and discovery (3-5 toys/shipment). Choose from three programs : Infant 0-12 Months, Toddler 1-3 Years or Preschool 3-6 Years. Partner with many trusted brands such as Haba, Kathe Kruse, Green Toys, Tegu and more.

SparkBox Toys One Sparkbox every 4 weeks $34.99/month; 1 Sparkbox every 8 weeks $19.99/month. Two month minimum for membership. Designed for children ages 0-4 years, Sparkbox is all about the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This toy rental subscription sends 4 age-appropriate, gently used toys to your child to enjoy for 4-8 weeks. When the fun is done, just sent the box back for more toys. Shipping both ways is included in the subscription price. Sparkbox will curate your box based on child’s age, but they allow members to review, edit, and fully customize their box if they desire. Toys are screened to be high-quality, unique, award-winners. Some may be plastic and/or require batteries (included), others are made from natural materials. SparkBox uses only eco and child-friendly sterilization solutions to clean their toys between shipments. All toys go through a 5-step cleaning process that includes surface cleaning, sterilization, disinfecting, inspection and vacuum sealing.

SwiggyDiggyDo $39.95/month. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed for children ages 6 months to four years, however currently box contents will only vary relative to clothing size so some items may be to hand down/gift or grow into depending on your child’s age. SDD seeks to find the best, eco-friendly products that are free of BPA, lead, bromine, phthalates and a bunch of other weird chemicals that companies decide to put into toys, clothing and basically everything else. You will get a custom designed, limited edition shirt for your kid. Along with the shirt, your box might include toys, crafts/activities, books, clothing, feeding items and more.

Fair Trade/Handmade

Fair Ivy $30/month. Currently monthly and multi-month subscriptions are full but you can request to be added to the wait list. Fair Ivy sends a handmade and hand wrapped gift each month. All items are created by individual US artists, with each month representing a single artist’s creations. Each gift you receive is vegan-friendly, and contains an information card with details of the artist’s process, background, or inspiration, so you can understand the time and care put into each hand-wrapped item. Past selections have included a single jewelry item, a purse or clutch, set of stationary, or selection of bath products.

Fair Treasure
$35/month. Discounted for multi-month subs) We hunt for the most amazing designs in home décor, jewelry, and other accessories, personally curating these finds for each month’s treasure boxes. Sometimes we’ll even work collaboratively with artisan groups to develop and design unique products just for us. it will contain at least $30 in retail value of ethically sourced treasures. Typically, your treasure box will contain 2-3 items.
Just as important, we’ll include information on the people and communities who made your treasures and are benefiting from your purchase. What a great thing – you score beautiful goods and make people’s lives better at the same time!

The GlobeIn Artisan Box $35/month, shipping free. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 4-6 artisan-made products from around the world (a “globe in a box”) packaged in a Mexican palm leaf basket, as well as a story about the crafters whom you have supported with your purchase.

Fair Trade Friday $35/month plus shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. monthly membership club that delivers a box of 3-4 high quality items to your door by the first Friday of the month. The items in the box are often jewelry and accessory items, are fairly traded, and provide employment to women all over the world. 100% of the proceeds from each box goes to the empowerment of impoverished women.

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The Return of the Crunchy Parent

***Surprise!!!!*** Well, probably not much of a surprise to most of you who are new around these parts, but just in case there’s someone out there who had a magical feed reader that held on to this little page waiting and wondering for the last six years whatever happened to that woman whose family you used to know a little bit about, I’ll take a moment to catch you up….I started this blog back when my two girls were little bits. One was watching the world unfold in gauzy magical colors at her Waldorf preschool and in our backyard. The other spent most of her time smiling at life from her perch, usually snuggled in her Maya Wrap close to my chest. I was transitioning to the role of full-time, stay-at-home parent after many years in graduate school completing PhD programs in both clinical psychology and school psychology, and trying to figure out how all of the training that I had received fit with these two little beings who had not necessarily read the same books or followed the same syllabi that I had. My husband and I were trying to approach our role as parents mindfully, with a strong focus on preserving childhood as a time of exploration, wonder, and creativity, and making thoughtful decisions that we hoped would support the emotional and physical health and well-being of our children. I’m the first to admit that our aspirational path was not an easy road for us to walk, and sometimes we had to settle for doing the best that we could in a given moment or circumstance even if that was not the same as what we wished we could do in the moment or in hindsight.  That is where my blog took a sabbatical.

In the summer of 2008, my husband sustained a significant back injury and took an extended leave from work to recover. I attempted to balance the child care, the diaper washing and round-the-clock nursing, the food prep, the transportation, laundry, groceries, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, the CSA pickup, the chiropractor appointments and doctor visits, caring for him as he was mostly bedridden, and trying to maintain my blog. Something had to give. The blog seemed like the appropriate choice, so it sat gathering dust and waiting for life to settle down a bit.

Thankfully life did begin a return to normal, enough to consider that third baby that we had wanted but had also put on hold in light of the chaos. We were lucky enough to be blessed with a third pregnancy, but our joy did not last long before it became overshadowed by complications. When I was 8 weeks pregnant I began to experience significant bleeding, and 15 weeks into my pregnancy I was on complete bed rest with a diagnosis of subchorionic hemorrhages. Now it was my husband’s turn to be the full-time house manager, child care provider, and breadwinner as we tried to maintain a challenged pregnancy over many months and still meet the needs of our girls. It was during this time that we also discovered that a deadline had been missed, a subscription had gone unpaid, and my blog and all of its content had been lost. It was too low on our priority list at the time, and it seemed that the Universe was telling me to just let some things go. The days and weeks crawled along, and despite odds that seemed unthinkable at times, I gave birth at full term to my beautiful son.

Recovery from almost six months of immobility was difficult and involved a great deal of physical therapy, but I began to improve. An area on my leg that I had noticed as seeming different and restricted during the pregnancy never really got better despite my increased strength and decreased pain elsewhere. In the end it turned out that it was cancer, and that was a whole other journey.

I am excited to say that I am four years cancer-free this month. Our little crunchy family has weathered many challenges over the past six years; too many to list, but not enough to have completely derailed us from our crunchy path. I continue to be excited by learning new things; by crafting, cooking, and creating, by supporting health and well-being in holistic ways, and by attempting to glean the best from mainstream and non-mainstream approaches while keeping an open mind that today’s best choice for our family may not be the same as tomorrow’s, and certainly may not be the same as another family’s best choice. I am also mindfully choosing to place a greater emphasis on self-care. Like many parents I tend to fall into the habit of pouring every ounce into my children without taking time to refill my own cup. That is simply not sustainable or beneficial for the family as a whole, so I am trying to make new choices in that area of my life to support continued health and well-being. This blog is self-care for me. It gives me permission and time to express myself, to explore my interests, and to engage in a community that teaches me endlessly.

There have been so many times over the years that I have learned something or done something and wished that I could share it on my blog, only to have a melancholy moment thinking that the blog had been just one more casualty of those rather difficult years. My oldest child recently turned twelve and in poking around online found the three Crunchy Parent videos that I had put up on You Tube all those years ago. She pointed to the page views and to the followers, “Mom, people are still interested,” she said, “You should bring Crunchy Parent back.” If I am going to believe that the Universe may have cued me to let go when I needed my focus to be elsewhere, I am going to be open to the idea that it may be nudging me to return. So, I’m back. No promises and no apologies, but I hope you’ll be happy to see me again, and many of you for the very first time.

As I mentioned above, I love to learn new things and I find it exciting to share what I know with others. If you have an interest or a question, let me know and I will possibly have the information for you, or you can be the inspiration for me figuring it out. Thank you for hanging on or checking back after all these years. I hope that you will be glad that you did. If we are crossing paths for the first time, I assume that there must be a good reason. Please make yourself at home and I hope that you find something that enriches you for the experience.

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